In a scene where stoner metal bands are going for ten a penny, Lizardmen bring something fresh to the table. We’ve heard high energy stoner rock before, but the Osnabrück trio bring a nice modern twist to a well trod genre with a solid injection of the blues. After discovering their excellent Cold Blooded Blues album on YouTube, I had to find out more. But luckily for me the trio were very happy to answer my questions.
Jack: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Lizardmen: Hey, thanks for supporting the underground! We’re doing good so far. We have had some busy weeks before and since the release but we love to see things going forward.
Jack: How did Lizardmen form?
Lizardmen: We formed like two years ago when Nikki (guitar/vocals) and Tore (drums) started a two-piece fuzz-blues project. There is even pretty old video footage on YouTube. The plan was to have as [few members] as necessary to avoid trouble with rehearsing and playing shows. Soon we involved Niklas (bass) from another Osnabrück-based band because we needed more heaviness in our sound.
Jack: Your band name is Lizardmen and your latest album is called Cold Blooded Blues. What is your obsession with Lizards?
Lizardmen: Well there’s a lot of mystery and beauty in lizards but we’re not really obsessed with them. The band name is related to a conspiracy theory, which says that a group of half-lizard/half-humans are secretly ruling the world from the underground by disguising as humans. We thought it was an interesting theme to deal with. Cold Blooded Blues is a title which fits as good to our band name as to our music. There are some quite “classical“ blues songs on the album like ‘Steady Rolling Man’ (which is a homage to blues legend Robert Johnson) or ‘Mammoth Creep’ but also some more heavy stoner tracks like ‘Dust’ or ‘The Cannibal’ which still have their roots somewhere in the blues. Just like lizards that are able to adjust their body temperature, we’re playing with different styles and intensities of blues based music on this record.
Jack: Is the name related to the Lizardmen in Warhammer in anyway?
Lizardmen: No. None of us are familiar with the Warhammer universe.
Jack: You originate from Osnabrück, what’s the music scene like there?
Lizardmen: For a city of this size (Osnabrück is pretty small) we’ve got a great music scene here. There are quite a lot of high energy stoner, doom and sludge bands around here, which are all connected somehow. Lots of members of different bands are forming new projects to experiment with. We’ve got some cool clubs around, that are supporting the scene pretty hard. The Bastard Club for example, where a lot of quite big scene bands like Brant Bjork, Red Fang or Elder are playing at. The owner always tries to give the local bands a chance to play the opener for those big bands. We had the opportunity to play a gig with Crowbar there!
Jack: Lots of UK bands say they envy the arts funding and how supportive the local music scenes are in Germany. What are your experiences with the German music scene?
Lizardmen: We haven’t played the UK yet so we cannot really show differences. But we’ve made good experiences with the German music scene overall. There are lots of opportunities for smaller bands to present themselves.
Jack: Your sound has been described as one that is the bridge between grunge and hard rock. What are your influences?
Lizardmen: Every member of the band has it’s very own influences. That’s what makes it that interesting to play with each other. Nikki grew up with blues stuff starting from Robert Johnson and Son House to Led Zeppelin and The Allman Brothers Band. Tore used to listen to a lot of hardcore stuff but also has a foible for R’n’B and pop starting from the ’60s and Niklas started with ’80s thrash metal but also got influenced heavily by ’90s rock bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Rage Against The Machine. Although we’ve got very different musical backgrounds, playing together feels absolutely natural and we don’t have to discuss the music we play. Everyone seems to know exactly what our songs need.
Jack: A lot of people are suggesting the stoner scene is getting stagnant and repetitive, do you agree?
Lizardmen: Well it’s a natural process that every music genre is repetitive somehow, since there are certain factors that need to be fulfilled to say a band is this or that genre. Every thrash metal band always will share some style elements and musical phrases with other bands of that genre as same that every reggae band will. Just for example. But if they think that stoner rock is more repetitive then other genres they a) just don’t see the aesthetic of the genre or b) are definitely listening to the wrong bands. An other question would be where stoner starts and ends. It is very diverse because you have some very interesting influences such as blues, psychedelic, metal or punk to experiment with. So if you are bored from the scene go and see concerts with bands you’ve never seen before.
Jack: What do you think is the main attraction to stoner, sludge and doom?
Lizardmen: Big balls, beards, long hair and Satan.
Jack: You just released your debut album Cold Blooded Blues, are you happy with the response?
Lizardmen: We’re absolutely overwhelmed by the feedback coming from all over the world. People invite us to play in their countries which we definitely will do as soon as we can.
Jack: The album was uploaded onto YouTube to the Stoned Meadow Of Doom channel; how did you become involved with this channel and do you think having your album on there has helped your popularity?
Lizardmen: Actually our label, StoneFree Records from Vienna, which will release the album on CD and vinyl soon, contacted him. We’re very grateful he uploaded our album. The videos on this channel are getting viewed by many people from all over the world so we’ve reached a lot of people through him, that wouldn’t have listened to our music otherwise. The video has about 15,000 clicks at the moment, that’s something we really wouldn’t have expected. Thanks Stoned Meadow Of Doom!
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Lizardmen: We went to a recording studio at a small place next to Osnabrück and recorded the whole album in 4 days. We decided to record Cold Blooded Blues entirely live, except for vocals, because we felt that’s the only way to capture the energy of our songs. Some parts weren’t really written but more like a jam, especially between drums and bass during the guitar solos. The album just wouldn’t be that good if we would have recorded it one by one.
Jack: What gear did you use on the album?
Lizardmen: Nikki plays two amps. A Cornford MK II 50 head and an old acoustic combo which probably makes out the core of his sound. On most of the songs he plays a Starplayer TV by Duesenberg, a custom made SG in Open E tuning for slide stuff and a low-tuned Nuno Bettencourt Signature by Washburn which is replaced by a 2016 Gibson SG.
Tore plays a Sonor 505 special drum kit and uses Avedis Cymbals from Zildjian.
Niklas plays a Kustom DE300 over a 8×10 EBS Cabinet, and all songs were recorded with a Sandberg California TM. Only “The Cannibal” was recorded with an old Luxor Jazz Bass copy from the ’70s. Every song has 3 bass tracks, one with the direct clean signal one direct signal through a big muff and one with the microphoned amp.
Jack: When you write a song do you decide to make it a certain length or does it just occur naturally in the writing process?
Lizardmen: Most of the songs were written by just having a riff and jamming it. We try to record every rehearsal to figure out good parts in our jams. There are no restrictions but how it feels to us.
Jack: What are your upcoming plans, any plans to tour or come to the UK?
Lizardmen: Right now we’re working on merch and booking mostly. The most important thing for us is to play gigs. So we’ll be trying to get as far as possible and play as many shows as possible. That’s what it’s about. There are no plans for a UK tour yet, but we’d love doing that.
Jack: Finally, Nirvana’s Nevermind was released 25 years ago this month. What does this album mean to you?
Lizardmen: We’re all big fans of this record. It’s not as fucked up as Bleach but the recording sound is incredible. There is a lot of influence that goes out from that album that reaches out to almost everyone in rock music. Really great album, no doubt, but out of all Nirvana albums we as a band got influenced by the dirty sound and the fucked attitude on In Utero the most!